Large Scale Central

I need HELP for a train for a Miniature Golf Course

Hello Gentleman!
I work for a small non-profit in Ronceverte West Virginia, and we are designing and constructing an outdoor miniature golf course. This course will be located in the city park and open to the public, so it is going to be more than a hobby course. The course will mostly represent the history of our small town, and the railroad was a big part, specifically Chesapeake @ Ohio.
I have very little model railroading experience and have many questions that I can’t find (or understand when I do find) answers.

Here is what I found so far:
G-scale is built to be weather resistant and is the most used for garden trains.
G-scale is 1:22.5.
It is possible to run a train without powered tracks if I buy the right locomotive.
G-scale is very available, and not ridiculously expensive.

That’s it. That’s all I really know so far.

Here are some of the questions:
In inches, how large are the dimensions of the average locomotive?
How available are C & O themed cars and props?
Will g-scale track hold up if I have the track crossing my walking path? Do they make special sections for that purpose? If yes, are functional railroad crossing barriers and the track to trigger them available?
Can this train handle a slope? If yes, how steep (assume 6-8 cars)?

I have lots more, but this should get me started. I thank you for your time and effort to educate me.

Hello Mark,

That’s a big list of fun questions about an amazing project! How cool! And you’ll be getting a lot of responses!

I wish I had time at the moment to dive in, but since there are lots of true experts here for now I’ll just say a big Welcome Aboard!!


welcome from me too.

that depends very much on the era. roughly from 8 to 25".
best, you search some pics of the real locos in question, show them here. that would give you feedback what loco from which company (of what size) would be the most fitting.

stepping on them is no problem. wheelbarrows might be. and the worst: sideways kicking, moving and disconnecting the track.
plus dumba$$es and children trying to touch or catch the running trains.

not to my knowledge, but many do imbed track into their gardenpaths with concrete.

custom rigged systems would be possible. but…
… expensive and complicated.

in your own garden, with family and friends, most will behave civilized.
but in public places i would seperate public and trains by distance and some kind of barrier.

there exist layouts with even more than 6% slopes, but i would recommend to stay under 3% (about one inch per yard)


oh, most of us like to show off.

Welcome aboard Mark!

I will address your thoughts in the order stated. LS (Large Scale) is generally noted for being for outdoor use. That does not say running in the rain is a good idea. Keep in mind that LS experiences all the same conditions that the prototype railroads endure. However LS does not have the scale of mass. Keeping the equipment covered in bad weather is a good idea.

LS includes, but is not limited to, 1:22.5. There are several popular scales that operate on LS (45mm gauge) track. Scales run from 1:32 and 1:29 (American modern prototyp), 1:24 and 1:22.5 (tyypically European Meter gauge and American narrow gauge),1:20.3 (American 3 foot narrow gauge) and 1:13.7 (American 2 foot narrow gauge). 'G’Scale has become the Generic phraseology for Large Scale.

Yes, it is possible and quite popular to incorporate the power (batteries) and control (redio control) into the locomotive. From your introduction I interpret that this is intended to ba a fairly substantial layout. Consider that a battery powerd locomotive will have a limited turn time under constant operation. I have a Bachmann K27 fitted with a 5600 mha battery. I can get about 3 hours of run time at a show. Do your due dillagence before making any decisions.

Yes, LS is relatively available, but limited in manufacturers in the RTR market. The second hand market is likely more available, but at a higher risk in the quality department. ‘Not ridiculously expensive’ is a relative term. Relative to how long your arm are and how deep your pockets. I would recomment looking on the internet at the hobby shops to see what is available and at what price.

The size of a locomotive is another one of those ‘relative’ things. As an example, I have a Hartland ‘Mack’ (2 axle small loco),scale 1:24ish is 6-8 inches long. My Bachmann K27 (2-8-2 steam), scale 1:20.3 is 39ish (engine and tender) long. I think most modern diesels fall less that the k27. There are lots of others available, maybe some of the folks will add some locos with dimensions.

I am not familiar with any C&O specific locomotives. I have one or maybe two C&O theme box cars. Large Scale does not have the selection of road names and car types available in the smaller scales. In most cases, supporting characters are scratch build. There are a couple structure manufacturers but they can be pricey.

LS track and switches will hold up to the occasional jolly giant footfall, but I would not recommend it as a habbit. If the track must cross a walkway I would recommend a straight crossing, recessing the track in the concrete the depth of the ties plus the rail, so he top of the rail will be flush to slightly recessed in the concrete. Then rip thin strips of white cedar the thickness of the height of the rail, leaving a flangeway on each side and securing that in place. Same on outside of rails. Search out ‘Grade Crossings’ and look for an old timber crossing to emulate.

Grade brossing gates are not commercially available to my knowledge

Track grade is a slippery slope to give acvice on. There are so many variables that affect the answer. However, in general I will answer in a somwaht generic format.
Steeper Grade = less cars that can be pulled by a given locomotive.
Axle lubrication = poor lubrication = less cars that can be pulled.
Locomotive = Hartland Mack locomotive will pull 6 standard sized box cars on level track with lubricated axles. Add a 2% grade and that drops to 3 cars.
I would not recomment more than 1.5-2% grade if modeling a modern mainline. That can go to 4% if you are modeling a narrow gauge or industrial type RR.

I recommend this book . It will cover likely 85% of your questions. It is a bit out of date in terms of electronics technologies but the beginner basic info is still sound.

Just to clarify, your “outdoor miniature golf course” is a scale model, and not intended for visitors to actually use it? What scale is it - 1/24th? 1/12?

As commented above, not a lot of C&O stuff. A 1/29th [don’t ask] diesel would be easy to find from USA Trains, which is still in business. Try not to invest in an Aristocraft as there is no support as they are out of business. Boxcars, etc., are also available from USAT.

Welcome Marc. I don’t have anything else to add. I think Korm and Bob have given you a good 25,000 foot overview, so I wont muddy the waters further.

Lots of folks here are willing to help. And there is a ton of information here in the numerous build threads.


You may want to investigate a company called SplitJaw. I think I have seen walk on and yard equipment roll over resistant track among their products.

Hope this helps, David Meashey

Thank you to everyone for your information!
What is the best way for me to reply to multiple responses here? Do I respond to my own post like I did here? Do I have to respond individually?

New question:
Is “Chessie” the same as C & O, or is it a derivative?

Chessie was the renamed C&O Came about in the 70s :sunglasses:
After they bought out the B&O and others

i know of at least three manners to response:

  1. to respond generally, or add some additional content - use button “Reply”, that you find at the very end of the thread.
  2. to respond to a specified post/a person - use the response arrow and “Reply”, that you see in the lower right of their post.
  3. to respond to a specific sentence - mark that sentence in the other writers post. you will see a - "Quote - click on that. you can do that with various quotes, (that is how i quoted your different questions in my post above)
    and even from different posts, like that:
1 Like

I ordered the book. We are fortunate that we have a large electronics company 2 doors away that is willing to help us with custom work we may need.

First, welcome!!!

Most everyone is already giving you sound advice. I have one addition. Part of my layout has track crossing the walking path. I was/am worried about a inadvertent foot fall damaging track. So I devised a prototypical solution to my problem that so far has worked well.

In the real world, where tracks are crossed by foot traffic or vehicles the space between rails and the outside of the rails is filled with something. Wood was/is common as is rubber.

I wanted to duplicate this on my layout at the footpath crossings. I used PVC lumber (sold at the big box stores and has a smooth side and a wood grain side) and ripped “timbers” that are the same depth as the rail and then a width that works to fill the gap and look like planking. I then used track spikes to nail them down to the ties. You have to make sure you leave a decent gap inside each rail for the wheel flanges.

Anyway, mine have held up for about a decade now being walked over and walked on and have had no negative impact to the track. If I think about it I will take a picture when I get home of my actual track. I think it not only looks good but is very functional.

A decade Hmmm
it took you that long to figure what you wanted :woozy_face:


Since were talking walkway crossings; I had a flagstone walk to cross. I cut the path from the stones and created a base as deep as the ties and rail. Ties were filled with patching cement then track was placed in the trench. Mortar mix was poured to cover the ties and fill to the rail tops. I used a home-made tool with 4 plastic wheels to clean out the flange ways. It is still in service some 20+ years later. There was a build thread on My Largescael but it is long gone. I still have some pictures…


Thats looks like a great solution Jon. It looks great and functional

I’m assuming the mini golf will be open to the public? We all know that some kids and adults can be punks. There is a Burger King several towns over from me that is in an old train station. They had an overhead G train for a time but too many kids would toss french fries up to try and derail the train so they stopped running it.
Battery powered trains will run several hours depending on the type of battery you use and the length of train it tows. Track power is constant and will run for days but the track needs to be clean. The track also needs to be clean for the battery trains because a twig or acorn can derail it. Battery power also needs to be plugged in to charge it.
99% of our train engines come track powered but they can all be converted to battery with remote control.
Keep your grades under 2%.
Our train cars can be left out year round but I would protect anything with electronics from the weather.
Theft or vandalism might also be a concern for your setup.

Your idea sounds like fun but I’m concerned how some might treat your setup when no one is watching.

Now it is CSX (and 20 chars.)

I think this is a bad idea and things like, derails, track maintenace, layout maintenace, engine and car repairs, etc. will be a everyday occurrence and will need a full-time person just to keep things going. Plus the golfers, small children in general with be in total I want to touch it mode, causing more problems. If you think you can just build a large layout and all work on a day by day trouble free running layout is going to happen, I can tell you it won’t happen. I think the poster of this post needs to spend some time with owners of outdoor layouts and learn from them what really happens and needs to be done to keep things running. Layout like this can work, but it is mainly run by a clubs and their members do offer their time to keep things going, I personally don’t even know how a miniature golf course could even support a outdoor model railroad, unless the owner has money to throw away and a glutton for punishment.